Canton Canopy is a volunteer group, operating under the CCA, working toward a sustainable, healthy tree canopy in Canton. Michael Woollen, the group's Founder, Executive Director, and a Canton resident, tells us more about his passion.
Hi Michael. Tell us about Canton Canopy…
What does Canton Canopy do exactly?
Canton Canopy, formed in 2017, is a collection of neighbors working towards creating a sustainable, healthy tree canopy in Canton and South East Baltimore. For the last two years, Canton Canopy has been writing grants to fund the creation of new tree pits in the neighborhood and has organized volunteer-led tree planting events. So far, we have planted over 200 trees in Canton since our inception during the Fall of 2016. Canton Canopy also organizes tree maintenance events including watering, mulching, and pruning to promote tree stewardship in the neighborhood.
How often do you get together?
Before and during the planting season (Spring - April & May, Fall -September & October) we get together quite often. We typically look to take a hiatus during the winter before we need to start writing our next grant usually due in early March.
What is its origin? How did it get started?
I believe the first thought of Canton Canopy came to me when I first moved to Canton and had a good buddy living in Butchers Hill. There is such a stark difference in tree canopy in Butchers Hill vs. Canton. Rumor has it a big tree planting campaign occurred there in the 1980s and it absolutely shows. Per Tree Baltimore, in 2007 at least, the tree canopy percent of land area was 24%-28% in Butchers Hill and less than 6% in Canton.
When I finally decided it would be nice to start a tree planting group in Canton, I shared my idea with Erica Kern at a Canton Community Association meeting and she was all in. In turn, we sought Baltimore Tree Trust’s founder Jill Jones, and Matt Rescott who has become Canton Canopy’s arborist.
Jill recommended that we reach out to the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association for inspiration. In discussing how we could adapt their model to the Canton landscape, we were informed that they had almost fully planted their entire neighborhood via grant money.
How does increasing the tree canopy help the environment and an urban community?
When we drive or walk along a tree-lined street and then travel down a street with few or no trees, there is a huge difference! Beyond looking good, trees protect and enhance city dwellers’ health and property. Trees literally clean the air by absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen. They reduce rainwater runoff and erosion, thus improving the Bay’s water quality. Trees temper climate; they save energy; they can improve health, serve as screens, and strengthen communities. Trees can even help contribute to a community’s economy and improve our way of life—and provide habitat for wildlife we might otherwise not see in our urban environment.
According to Tree Baltimore, “Baltimore has 2.8 million trees. If we lost all our trees, it would cost $3.4 BILLION to replace them. This does not take into account the services our trees provide, such as cleaning our air and water, improving our health, and increasing our property values.
Current value of services provided by Baltimore’s trees:
$3.3 million a year in energy savings by shading buildings from the summer sun and blocking winter winds.
$10.7 million a year storing 527 tons of carbon. Carbon dioxide greatly increases the greenhouse effect.
$3.8 million a year by removing 700 metric tons of air pollution (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, etc.)
$1.6 million a year by removing 244 metric tons of ozone. Ground level ozone is the main ingredient in smog and a leading contributing factor of asthma.
Over the life of a single tree, it is not unreasonable to conclude that $57,000 in economic and environmental benefits is provided.” (For more, visit http://www.treebaltimore.org/)
Where do you get the resources? Is there a grant?
The Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Town’s (G3) grant. The G3 grant is meant to support local, grassroots-level greening efforts by towns and communities in urbanized watersheds that want to reduce stormwater run-off through the creation of “green streets”, increase urban green spaces and to reduce the number of impervious surfaces.
Since receiving our very first grant in July of 2017, Canton Canopy has received $37,188 in grant money, held 7 tree planting events planting over 200 trees as well as 4 volunteer maintenance events which include mulching, watering, and pruning. We were also lucky enough to have Tree Baltimore bring its Tree Keepers class to the neighborhood this past March. Tree Keepers is a citywide stewardship program open to anyone interested in Baltimore City trees and works to educate the public about proper tree care and maintenance. In our first two years, we have mainly focused on the Hudson and Dillon Street corridors.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Canton Canopy is looking to keep this momentum going. We are anxiously awaiting word on our next grant that will allow us to plant about 80 trees on Fait Ave starting this Fall. Typically, they announce grant recipients in later summer. We have also submitted a grant for stump removal in the neighborhood. This will allow us to plant many already existing pits with new trees.
What do you like most about living/working in the Canton Community?
What I like most about Canton is how well rounded it’s become. Sure, we wish that all residents were more involved at a local level, but the people in the neighborhood really do make it a community. That’s hard to say when you have at least a different personality every 12 feet or so. With the creation of Canton Crossing, despite it’s suburban personality, the addition of the Goddard School, and now Hampstead Hill Academy earning a 5-star rating on the state’s first public school ranking, Canton makes a strong argument for itself no matter what stage of life you are in. We hope that our organization will contribute to the neighborhoods overall success.
How can the community help and/or participate?
I invite everyone to find us on Facebook to stay up to date for future volunteer plantings and maintenance events and join us at our mulching event on May 5th. We are also always looking for more volunteers who would like to take a larger role in the organization as well.